Baking in Lima has meant adjusting to different oven settings (Celsius degrees), different measurements (like buying butter by the gram), and even having to find ingredients in sections of the grocery that are completely counterintuitive. During my first visit to the grocery, I attempted to search for sprinkles that I was going to use for funfetti cookies. In the baking section, I could only find sprinkles in the shapes of stars or hearts. These would not work. The small round nonpareil sprinkles were either metallic shades or chocolate brown. Those would have been use-able, but they were not regulation funfetti colors. As for rainbow jimmies, nada. Could this really be their whole sprinkle selection? I thought. I even checked other major grocery chains in the area, but none of the baking aisles carried rainbow nonpareils or rainbow jimmies. I had given up on the idea of baking anything funfetti in Lima until one day, I finally found them in the most unexpected place… the spice section!
Before this eventual sprinkles discovery, I had to work with whatever ingredients I could put together. Since I had oats (for breakfast) and raisins (for snacks), I decided to make the classic oatmeal raisin recipe. I could not find baking soda (though I know now you can actually find this in pharmacies!), so I bought self rising flour, or harina preparada, to compensate. It didn’t occur to me at the time to just replace the baking soda with an adjusted baking powder amount (btw- 1 tsp baking soda = 3 tsp baking powder). At any rate, I came to find that the harina preparada did not work. My cookies didn’t expand outward enough, and they turned out like this:
I once baked cookies that resulted in a similar bread-like thickness when I ran out of all purpose flour. I had figured I could just use bread flour, but I had learned my lesson… twice. So folks, from personal experience, no, bread flour (or self rising flour) is not interchangeable with all purpose flour for cookie baking!
The next week, I went ahead and purchased a pack of harina sin preparar (flour with no leavening agents mixed in) and made a sugar cookie base. I wanted to add a Peruvian or South American flavor to the cookies, so I picked up some dulce de leche to drizzle over the cookies. The texture was on point, and the cookies had spread out perfectly evenly. The flavor, on the other hand, just didn’t quite hit the mark. Reasons for this could be 1) having to use vanilla essence as opposed to pure vanilla extract and 2) using 3 teaspoons of baking powder (since baking soda was not available).
Use quality ingredients if you can, and this cookie recipe will come out just right! Despite my personal critiques of the grocery selections here in Lima, the dulce de leche was a bit hit.
I’ve used this sugar cookie recipe and mixed in white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, peanut butter pieces, and funfetti sprinkles right before refrigeration! Have fun with it, and as always, please share your creations in the comments!
Dulce de Leche Glazed Cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 9-11 minutes
Makes: about 30 cookies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup cane sugar (or white granulated sugar)
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup dulce de leche
In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt. Set aside.
In another large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to cream together the softened butter and sugar. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix with the hand mixer until everything is just incorporated. In batches, add the dry ingredients. Use the rubber spatula to mix everything together until you can no longer see the dry ingredients in the batter. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (This helps keep the cookie dough from spreading out too thinly when baking).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp of cookie dough. Set the rounded cookie dough balls in staggered rows on the cookie tray about 4 inches apart from each other. Bake for 9-11 minutes. The center of the cookies should not look too moist, and the edges should be barely golden. Remove from oven and cool for 1 minutes. Use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. When the cookies are completely cooled, add the dulce de leche glaze…
If your dulce de leche comes in a can or cylindric packaging, use a sandwich size ziploc bag to “pipe out” the glaze. Fill the ziploc bag with 1/2 cup of dulce de leche. Use scissors to snip the very edge of the corner. You don’t want to make the snippet too big; the smaller the snippet, the skinnier your glaze design will be. Decorate the sugar cookies with zig zag designs, stripes, swirls, etc.!
– In Peru, many pre-packaged condiments, such as ketchup, mayo, and even tomato paste are sold in sealed bags like this:
– If you don’t have an ice cream scoop to scoop out the cookie dough, use two spoons — 1 to scoop out of the bowl and the other to form and push the ball of dough onto the baking sheet.
– Avoid greasing the pan, as it may cause the bottom of the cookies to brown faster in the oven than desired!